Over the past three years there has been no dearth of examples of what Americans have to look forward to if Republicans ever gained control of all three branches of government. States like Kansas, Louisiana, and Wisconsin are prime examples of Republicans piling up crushing debt, cutting services, destroying education, and killing jobs by pandering to the ultra-rich and corporations. It is obvious that in Republican-led states, like the United States Congress, conservatives have demonstrated their ineptitude to govern as a matter of course, and if they do govern, it is only to benefit a very small portion of their populations.
There is one example of a state that leads the nation in economic growth, job creation, and the ability to govern for all the people. This week, in a seriously stunning editorial by a very conservative newspaper they readily admit and praise California with its Democratic super-majority and governor as the model the rest of the nation and Republicans in Congress should follow.
There were several notable points the conservative authors cited about how good efficient government is supposed to work for the people, but it was their remarks that “Democrat Jerry Brown is a centrist;” not a socialist, not a Marxist, not liberal, or not progressive. They admitted that Brown might strike the rest of the country as alarming, “but it is all the more reason for the rest of the country to take note of the momentum here” and learn a valuable lesson that government can, and does work for all the people when Democrats are in charge.
The editorial first noted that Governor Brown signed a nationally-watched compassionate and humane bill making assisted suicide legal in California for the terminally ill. The editors also praised Brown’s signing Democratic legislation that contains the nation’s most strident gender pay equity protections; “protections that immediately raise the bar for the rest of the country to aspire to.” The very next day Governor Brown signed “landmark bills” forcing state contractors to extend employment benefits to transgender employees. And, with help from the Democratic legislature “radically upped the ante” on the use of renewable energy in the Golden State; legislation the Koch brothers’ lobbyists fought hard to derail.
Then, the Governor and Democrats handed the Kochs another righteous smack down by passing and signing legislation banning the nation’s largest public pension system, California’s, from investing in coal as part of “a diversified investment portfolio.” The same day Governor Brown put California’s substantial clout behind the national movement to stop plastic microbead pollution, after earlier enacting legislation phasing out plastic bags. Still not finished, the governor signed a bill regulating medicinal marijuana as well as legislation automatically registering Californians to vote when they obtain or renew a driver’s license.
Those recent displays of how a government can, and should, work “for the people” are in addition to bills passed, and signed into law, earlier this year that “deflated the insanity-driven and dangerous anti-vaccination movement.” Unvaccinated children will no longer jeopardize the lives of California’s student population because their seriously disturbed parents deny science and get their medical advice from a washed-up Playboy bunny and her comedian former husband.
Add to that a new racial profiling bill that law enforcement despises because it mandates that California police, sheriffs, and highway patrol officers do what law enforcement officials across the country resist as a matter of course; gather hard empirical data to back any claim that they do not stop and detain any California resident based on their race, ethnicity, or “suspected” Middle Eastern religious affiliation.
While Republicans in Congress have made immigration reform a national joke and portrayed immigrants as pariahs, Governor Brown and Democrats have taken steps that the very conservative newspaper’s editorial board labeled “humane and intelligent policies.” Policies to ensure that, “as long as undocumented people are here, they won’t be increasing the ranks of the state’s sick or uneducated, or drive without a license.”
The same editorial board, after mocking Congressional Republicans for saying “I’m not a scientist” to avoid addressing climate change, simply gushed that Democrat Jerry Brown is “inking subnational agreements” all over the globe to reduce greenhouse gases. Despite California’s robust environmental regulations, there is still a lot of work to do to reduce the Golden State’s unhealthy air quality across the state; all while the Kochs are spending tens-of-millions to kill clean air standards.
Finally, as America lags the rest of the developed world in providing mass transit, and California Republicans in Congress vow to never allow it to progress, over nearly three dozen private-sector companies are vying to partner with California to build the nation’s first high-speed rail line. It is a project that will create hundreds-of-thousands of living wage, and permanent, jobs in what will be the greatest Earth-moving project in California’s history. It is also a project the Koch brothers have worked tirelessly to stop because more mass transit options means fewer gas-guzzling vehicles on California’s already over-crowded highways.
Now, if one listens to Republicans, whether in red states or Congress, each and every achievement a Democratic majority legislature with a Democratic governor has accomplished California should be struggling, hemorrhaging jobs, and piling up unsustainable debt. However, that is certainly not the case in California and that is including being in the early stages of a drought of historically epic proportions. The conservative editorial board is spot on about Jerry Brown; he is a centrist. What could be more “centrist” than a governor calling for decent wages, compassionate immigration policy, care for the environment and tax rules that do not give everything to the rich and corporations?
California still has a long way to go to completely dig itself out of a deep dark hole from previous Republican administrations and legislatures, but it is making significant progress simply because the legislature and governor work for all the people. The rest of the nation should take a long, hard look at how a state with a Democratic super-majority and governor is able to govern effectively. As an aside, no American should think for a minute that the Democratic legislature is completely enamored with Governor Brown because he is not a hardline progressive and has governed from the middle. One would hope that Republicans in Congress would take a page out of California’s Democratic legislature and governor’s steady hand in governing for all the people, but that would require them actually wanting to govern for the people; something that is never going to happen.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.